He that would build lastingly must lay his foundation low. The proud man, like the early shoots of a new-felled coppice, thrusts out full of sap, green in leaves, and fresh in color, but bruises and breaks with every wind, is nipped with every little cold, and, being top-heavy, is wholly unfit for use. Whereas the humble man retains it in the root, can abide the winter’s killing blast, the ruffling concussions of the wind, and can endure far more than that which appears so flourishing.
It is often found that modesty and humility not only do no good, but are positively hurtful, when they are shown to the arrogant who have taken up a prejudice against you, either from envy or from any other cause.
Among well-bred people a mutual deference is affected, contempt of others is disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority.
Obstinate silence implies either a mean opinion of ourselves, or a contempt for our company; and it is the more provoking, as others do not know to which of these causes to attribute it – whether humility or pride.
We cannot too soon convince ourselves how easily we may be dispensed with in the world. What important personages we imagine ourselves to be! We think that we alone are the life of the circle in which we move; in our absence, we fancy that life, existence, breath will come to a general pause, and, alas, the gap which we leave is scarcely perceptible, so quickly is it filled again; nay, it is often the place, if not of something better, at least for something more agreeable.
It is a great error to be superior to others….It is such pride as this that makes a man appear a fool, makes him abused by others, and invites disaster. A man who is truly versed in any art will of his own accord be clearly aware of his own deficiency; and therefore, his ambition being never satisfied, he ends by never being proud.